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American Dreams At The Cleveland Public Theatre

On Monday, February 26th, we returned to the Cleveland Public Theatre to once again watch its dynamic production of "American Dreams".

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We initially saw the play about two weeks ago during previews and were amazed by a number of subtle changes that had taken place which improved the play for the better.

This evening's performance was a sellout which was quite a feat for a Monday night. Prior to the start of the play, a poll was taken which revealed that while the majority of the audience members were U.S. born, there were still quite a few who were not and represented such countries as Belgium, Canada, China, Great Britain, France, Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria.

It seemed like everyone there was really touched by "American Dreams", however, and this was evidenced by the standing ovation that the play received at its conclusion.

Afterwards, Mr. Chris Hoey of "Global Cleveland" moderated a discussion regarding the "Jewish-Muslim Response to Immigration" in which he queried Rabbi Stephen Weiss of the "B'nai Jeshurun Congregation" and our friend Mr. Murat Gurer of "Saalam Cleveland" and a very worthy representative of the Muslim American Community.

Rabbi Weiss poignantly spoke of the importance of "keeping the doors open" to the Jewish community because more might have been spared from being killed in the Holocaust if they had been allowed to take refuge in the U.S. or other allied countries.

Rabbi Weiss reinforced what we already knew about key historical reasons for migration/immigration being freedom from persecution, rebuilding lives, and taking care of one's families. Today most Jewish people seek to come here for economic opportunities and reunification of families although legitimate fear is sometimes a factor too.

Rabbi Weiss went on to explain that Jews from different parts of the world had different cultures and styles but generally they are quite supportive of each other. He recalled how Jewish families who had lived in the United States went out of their way to assist Russian Jews when they were finally allowed to leave the Soviet Union.

Nevertheless Rabbi Weiss emphasized that it was important that people of all religious faiths be welcomed here because this is what the United States was all about. Along these lines, he believed that the "Muslim Ban" was quite wrong and that we must all become active immediately on behalf of DACA recipients because the March 5th deadline is fast approaching.

Mr. Gurer spoke of his own experience of first coming to the United States from Turkey as a young student in order to learn English in six months and then go home but he changed his mind and decided to explore remaining here. To date, he has lived in the U.S. for some 17 years now and became a naturalized citizen several years ago; to be sure, he would have initiated the process sooner but the financial costs were quite high.

Mr. Gurer could very much relate to what Rabbi Weiss was speaking about when he talked of the need to flee persecution because at this time, due to conflicts in the Middle East, Muslims are among those most displaced.

Since he is, himself, an immigrant, Mr. Gurer talked about his experience adjusting to living in the United States via different food, different smells, and different friendships.

Earlier on, Rabbi Weiss talked about how rewarding it was for his wife's family to personally assist some Vietnamese boat people. Mr. Gurer felt the same way and urged us all to consider helping people different from us.

In fact, he recalled that one of his motivations to choose to make his home here in the U.S. was the kindness he received from one of his Christian friends who invited him over during the holidays when he was a young international student far from home.

He urged others to consider doing the same because it can be a great benefit to individuals as well as enhancing the status of the United States as a welcoming place indeed.

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC